Parvovirus is on the Move in New Jersey. Here’s How to Avoid It.

vet and dog virusParvovirus is a serious matter all year round – but when we hear about an outbreak, we take pains to be especially cautious. The acute virus, which is shed in dog feces for a few weeks after infection, has taken the lives of dozens of dogs in the New Jersey area over the past month.

Read on to learn about symptoms and how your dog can avoid its spread.

A highly contagious disease, parvovirus can be carried around town on dogs’ feet, hair, and of course, their mouths, but it will also latch onto objects like shoes and crates. It is spread through oral contact. Because dogs love to lick anything they get near, we see the high contagion value in parvovirus.

The virus has a tendency to attack areas with a high concentration of immune cells, especially the gastrointestinal tract. It progresses at a rapid rate, so it’s best to seek treatment for your pup immediately if you notice symptoms. Incubation periods usually last about four to five days, at which time symptoms develop.

Symptoms include:

• Depression

• High fever

• Abdominal pain or tucked in abdomen

• Dehydration

• Vomiting

• Diarrhea – often contains mucus or blood

• Rapid weight loss

• Sunken eyes

• Muscle weakness

• Fatigue

Doberman Pinschers and Rottweilers, as well as puppies 6 to 20 weeks in age, appear to acquire the infection more easily and show more intense symptoms.

What can you do?

Vaccinate your dog. Both vaccination and treatment are expensive, but to avoid the virus, a round of four vaccinations is a must, and to avoid death once infection has occurred, hospitalization is almost always a must

Bleach your items. Parvovirus can resist a lot of household cleaners and disinfectants, as well as last for months without a host, so you’ll need to use diluted bleach and leave on surfaces for at least 20 minutes before rinsing.

Vomiting and diarrhea are extremely common with parvovirus, and it’s tempting to just hydrate your dog as much as possible. Unfortunately, the level of dehydration associated with the virus requires more than just menial care, and administering water or other liquids at home should actually be avoided.

Remember, parvovirus spreads quickly and kills fast. It’s important to get an infected dog treatment immediately. Hospitalization is almost always required. If you suspect a virus or notice symptoms, get your vet on the phone or make the drive ASAP.

Again, the expenses can run high.

Right now in New Jersey, the ASPCA has partnered with the Trenton Animal Shelter and People for Animals to provide a set of 400 free vaccines to those in a given zip code.

There is help if your dog is sick – but prevention is always the best option.